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Applications for U.S. state unemployment insurance fell for the first time in four weeks.
That partially unwinds a recent spike in claims due to the omicron variant.
Initial jobless claims totaled 260,000 in the week ended Jan. 22, down 30,000 from the week before, U.S. Department of Labor data showed Thursday.
The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 265,000 applications.
Applications declined after a surge in recent weeks amid an uptick in COVID-19 cases across the country.
Claims largely have been falling in the past year as companies are desperate to retain and attract talent amid ongoing labor shortages.
Continuing claims for state benefits advanced to 1.68 million in the week ended Jan. 15.
On an unadjusted basis, claims retreated to 267,573 last week.
All except two states registered declines in unadjusted claims, with Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey posting the biggest decreases.
In Iowa, both continuing and first-time claims fell slightly.
Continuing applications dropped to 22,896 from 24,492 for the week before. Initial claims slipped to 2,512 from 3,006.
Linn County registered 193 initial claims. That is down from 292 for the previous week.
Johnson County recorded 74 first-time claims, a drop from 117.
Note that these figures do not represent all those unemployed as some people have cycled out of the system or have stopped looking for employment.